December 15, 1934OBITUARY
T. A. Watson Dead; Made First Phone
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA., Dec. 14 -- Thomas A. Watson, manufacturer of the first telephone instrument and first to hear a human voice over the device, that of its inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, died suddenly of heart disease here last night at his Winter home on Pass-Grille Key. He was 80 years old.
Mr. Watson came here three weeks ago from his home on Beacon Street, Boston. He had been a Winter visitor here since 1918.
In an interview here several years ago Mr. Watson described how an accident, involving spilled acid, resulted in the first actual reception of a human voice over a wire on March 10, 1876.
Professor Bell and Mr. Watson had arranged wires leading from a room on the top floor of a Boston boarding house to a room on the floor below. The apparatus was arranged for transmission of the voice in one direction only.
A Historic Shout.
Watson was waiting tensely in the room below, with the reception apparatus held against his ear. Suddenly he heard Dr. Bell shout excitedly:
"Mr. Watson! Come here; I want--!"
Struck with the realization that he had actually heard Professor Bell over the wire, Watson dashed jubilantly upstairs.
"I heard you! I heard you!" he gasped.
Then he noticed Professor Bell brushing frantically at his arms and clothing. He had accidentally spilled a bottle of acid upon himself. His summons over the wire, made with little hope it would be heard, was really one for assistance.
Mr. Watson said Professor Bell forgot about the acid when he learned his voice had been heard over the wire by his associate.
Partner of Bell.
Bell and Watson became acquainted during the apprenticeship of Watson in a machine shop at Boston, where experimental machinery was being made for Professor Bell. The latter at that time was a teacher of deaf mutes in Boston. It was while experimenting with the vibration of the drum of a deaf man's ear that he first became convinced of the possibility of conveying the human voice by wire.
After two years' employment in the machine shop Mr. Watson formed a partnership with Professor Bell. They rigged up a secret laboratory in a cellar at Salem, Mass., and Watson agreed to devote all his time to perfecting the Bell inventions in consideration of a share in the Bell patents.
On Oct. 9, 1876, they had so perfected the telephone that they held a conversation between Boston and Cambridge over a two-mile wire.
Nearly forty years after their first telephone conversation, Dr. Bell and Mr. Watson had the honor of being the first persons to talk by telephone across the American continent. Meanwhile, they had seen their invention grow steadily until more than 13,000,000 telephones were in use throughout the world.
In 1920 Mr. Watson visioned telephone conversations across the Atlantic Ocean as "only the beginning of modern development in this method of communication." Six years later he predicted that in the future "man will speak to man by mental telepathy."